Per tradition, Dairy Queen opens Monday, March 1, signaling spring is on the horizon. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

A sign of springtime: Dairy Queen opened Friday, March 1, for its 65th season

BUCKHANNON – Near freezing temperatures and a steady, bone-chilling rain didn’t stop the most iconic business in downtown Buckhannon from opening right on cue on Friday, March 1.

Perhaps a surer sign that spring is at least on the horizon than any prediction from famous groundhog French Creek Freddie (sorry, Freddie!), the neon pink lights of Buckhannon’s downtown Dairy Queen were switched on Friday afternoon.

And despite the damp, blustery conditions, owner Kay Ware and her staff stood ready to serve up classic soft-serve vanilla cones, the blizzard of the month (Mint Oreo) and much, much more Friday evening.

In acknowledgement of Dairy Queen’s 65th season, My Buckhannon asked local residents and others with connections to the area to share a memory or favorite item to order from the Dairy Queen menu.

Here’s what you told us:

Risë Straight Hanifan said DQ’s owner, Kay Ware, knows she brings her 3-year-old son, Callen, to see her, when there’s something to celebrate.

“Kay knows when Callan shows up that he: A.) pooped at school today and B.) wants a chocolate ice cream cone with sprinkles,” Hanifan wrote.

C. Thomas Beer, who now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, but grew up in Buckhannon in the 1960s, said he has fond memories of heading downtown to Dairy Queen for a hot fudge sundae as a child.

“As a child in the early 1960s, I was thrilled when my dad put us in the car and drove to Dairy Queen in town for a treat,” Beer wrote. “I always got the Hot Fudge Sundae. Later on, I took dates there for a nightcap of ice cream in a paper cup. I still get the Hot Fudge Sundae when I get back to Buckhannon, and I am magically transported back for just a little while.”

Emily Fenton recalls her mom always pining for a hot fudge sundae, too.

“It was Mother’s last birthday, and after dinner she asked me to go to the DQ,” Fenton wrote. “She always wanted a hot fudge sundae with extra nuts. I ordered and added it was Mother’s birthday. The woman knew Mother and asked me to wish her a ‘Happy Birthday!’

“Thanking her as I opened my purse to pay, she said it was a birthday gift.”

Fenton’s mom isn’t alone in visiting DQ to celebrate birthdays. Patti Lawrence’s husband’s first job ever was at a Dairy Queen location in his Tennessee hometown.

“He passed away six years ago, and every year on his birthday (March 25), my kids and I go to Dairy Queen in Buckhannon to celebrate! My favorite thing to get was the Hawaiian Blizzard with extra coconut but it’s not on the menu anymore.”

(FYI, Dairy Queen’s official website says the recipe for a Hawaiian Blizzard is “coconut blended with pineapple, banana, and creamy DQ vanilla soft-serve.”)

Other Dairy Queen frequenters’ frozen favorites?
Lindsey Chartrand’s go-tos are a Dilly Bar or a Mr. Misty, which Dairy Queen’s website now calls a “Misty Slush.”

Jerry and Amy Squires also recall the Dilly Bar – soft-serve vanilla ice cream coated with chocolate, cherry or butterscotch – as being their daughter’s instant favorite.

“I remember the first time I took my daughter there,” Amy wrote. “She got the Dilly bar and was hooked.”

In addition, simple cones – whether chocolate, vanilla, cherry-coated, chocolate-dipped or plain – never go out of style.

As one former Buckhannon resident put it, “There’s nothing like a chocolate-dipped cone from DQ!”

“My favorite is just a plain ole chocolate ice cream cone,” Christina Loudin-Edwards wrote. “I went there as a kid. I took all my kids there, usually in a red wagon, and I took my grandson for his very first ice cream cone, and then I have taken all my grandkids there.

“It is quite a treat for us to go there. We love it, and we are thankful for all the beautiful flowers surrounding it as well.”

But human children and grandchildren aren’t the only ones who deserve frosty treats.

Buckhannon resident Frankie Heatherly recalls how happy her pet dog, Grace, was when she took her to Dairy Queen for her first serving of ice cream.

“[I remember] taking my fur baby, Grace, there for her first ice cream and watching her eat it way too fast, all the while, her little butt wagging a hundred miles an hour and shivering. Will never forget that,” Heatherly wrote.

And Dairy Queen has long been a destination that could lure out even those who weren’t able to venture downtown much.

“Even when Mom was not leaving the house often, she would go with us to the Dairy Queen,” wrote Julia Feola Lovins, who now lives in Pennsylvania. “She also enjoyed going to the Dairy King!”

Buckhannon resident Mindy Dawson summed up the seasonal significance of seeing the Dairy Queen lights electrify the Buckhannon skyline beginning in March, regardless of the forecast.

“It’s always a sign that spring is here when it opens,” Dawson wrote. “However, one snowy March evening, my young son saw the open sign and insisted we stop. The poor girl working inside had to literally swipe the snow away from the counter at the window in order to serve us. A sign of spring, indeed!”

Buckhannon’s Dairy Queen celebrated its 60th year in 2014, when its longtime owner and operator, Betty Goss Booth, passed away at age 90, according to her obituary. Kay Ware was Booth’s longtime business partner prior to taking on the business herself.

Editor’s note: Do you have any special memories of Dairy Queen you’d like to share? My Buckhannon is working on a then-and-now story about the iconic ice cream shop and other landmarks in the city. Email us at

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